How Muslim models, designers navigate the complexity of hijabs in fashion

From the catwalks of Milan and New York to the covers of the largest fashion magazines around the globe, hijab-wearing models are redefining the face of fashion.

Several major brands such as Lululemon, Nike, Adidas and H&M, are featuring ads and clothing that is marketed to Muslim women, and some experts say this inclusivity is just scratching the service. Others say that in some instances the fashion companies’ push for diversity is reduced to tokenism.

PHOTO: Designer Renee Hill speaks with ABC News Live.

Designer Renee Hill speaks with ABC News Live.

Heidi Gutman/ABC News

“I think that [the hijab is] here to stay. How that looks is the question,” Renee Hill, a designer and former “Project Runway contestant,” told ABC News.

When Somali-Norwegian model Rawdah Mohamed recently walked the red carpet for H&M, she told ABC News that the company made adjustments to ensure her religious beliefs were adhered to.

Mohamed said that many of the times that responsibility falls on her.

“So when you come as a model, you’re not only a model, you come in as an educator [and]your you have so many roles,” she told ABC News. “I need to make sure that they understand the way I look and they understand my culture and my religion and why this has to be done the right way.”

PHOTO: Rawdah Mohamed gets ready for a fashion photo shoot.

Rawdah Mohamed gets ready for a fashion photo shoot.

ABC News

“So even if it might be exhausting and I don’t want to do it…I understand that my responsibilities are bigger than that, and my I have a higher purpose in life than just to be a model, to take a picture and go home,” she added.

Mohamed and other Muslim members of the fashion community have taken their voices to a global level to speak out against injustices against concerning the hijab.

Compulsory hijab laws in Iran sparked protests after the death of Mahsa Amini for allegedly improperly wearing her hijab according to government standards. Several hijab bans have been proposed in France.

“I’m afraid to walk in the streets of Paris because you have politicians who are tweeting my name,” Mohamed said. “So they make me out to be the enemy of the state of the nation so that it’s wild.”

In 2021, Mohamed launched a social media campaign called #handsoffmyhijab that went viral with many non-Muslim celebrities joining in.

PHOTO: Journalist Noor Tagouri and model Rawdah Mohamed speak with ABC News Live.

Journalist Noor Tagouri and model Rawdah Mohamed speak with ABC News Live.

Heidi Gutman/ABC News

Fashion journalist Noor Tagouri told ABC News that it’s important for Muslim models and designers to speak out and take back the narrative.

“Fashion is a storytelling medium and storytelling is a very sacred tradition in Islam,” she told ABC News. “When it comes to fashion that the stories are told in there, in a representative, a revolutionary representative way, because it’s how we actually begin to connect with one another.”

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